Discoveroids Say Scientific Consensus Is Nonsense

One of the things that really bothers the Discovery Institute is the general consensus among scientists about things they oppose — like the theory of evolution. So today they’re attacking the concept of consensus.

The new post at their creationist blog is Second Thought About the Idea of “Consensus”, written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

“Consensus science.” That is a phrase you hear invoked a lot, as if identifying a “consensus” should be enough to settle any scientific question. But sometimes scientists do not, in fact, follow the evidence. The consensus, then, could be wrong.

Aha — if the consensus could be wrong, that means there’s hope for the Discoveroids! Then she says:

In an article for Quilette, Professor Jonathan Anomaly [What?] at the University of Arizona writes, “I want to explore some explanations for why we might be justified in believing a hypothesis that scientists shy away from even when that hypothesis is consistent with the best available evidence.”

Quillette calls itself “a platform for free thought,” and the improbably named Jonathan Anomaly is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. This is the article Savvy Sarah is talking about: The Politics of Science: Why Scientists Might Not Say What the Evidence Supports. She tells us:

He gives examples of situations where people reach conclusions based on extrinsic factors, leading them to mistaken conclusions.

She quotes a bit from the social scientist’s article. One example he gives involves Super Bowl parties. We’ll skip that. Another example is someone who got fired from Google because he “questioned is that men and women are identical in both abilities and interests.” Then she quotes his conclusion:

The logic of collective action is that when the costs of expressing a belief are borne by the individual, but the benefits are shared among all members of an epistemic community, it is perfectly rational to fail to reveal our beliefs about that topic, no matter how justified they might be.

That may be interesting social science, but it has nothing to do with actual science until the end — which we’ll get to later — and even then, Anomaly doesn’t discuss evolution and creationism. But Savvy Sarah is encouraged. She says:

Regarding the origins of the universe, of life, and of mankind, we see strong bias against following the evidence where it leads.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The only place we see such bias is at creationist websites. Then she quotes a bit from the end of Anomaly’s article:

Anomaly notes, “Science is the best method we have for understanding the world. But to the extent that its success requires a willingness to entertain ideas that conflict with our deepest desires, scientific progress on politically contentious topics tends to be slow.”

We didn’t get much out of his article, but Savvy Sarah likes it. She ends her post with this:

The opposition we encounter to entertaining evidence supporting intelligent design is not necessarily driven by hard scientific data. [Hee hee!] Instead, I think it is driven by politics and groupthink in the scientific community. So the next time you hear that there is a scientific consensus on evolution, be prepared to push back. Ask what that “consensus” is based on. The evidence? Or something else?

Instead of citing an essentially irrelevant social science article, it would be more helpful to their cause if the Discoveroids devoted their efforts to providing evidence against the theory of evolution. They never have and they never will, so all they can do is get whatever comfort they can find wherever they can find it.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discoveroids Say Scientific Consensus Is Nonsense

  1. “The opposition we encounter to entertaining evidence supporting intelligent design….”

    To say their evidence is entertaining is a bit of a stretch. Although, unintentionally comedy is a personal favorite.

  2. Michael Fugate

    Wouldn’t we need to know what ID was before we could decide if something supports it or not? If their new book is any guide, then ID is just biblical creationism with a different name. Meyer, Gauger, Wells, West, Nelson, Axe, Dembski as contributors would seem to indicate this is so.

  3. Sarah is oddly right: “The opposition we encounter to entertaining evidence supporting intelligent design is not necessarily driven by hard scientific data.”

    In the case of ‘intelligent design’, rejection is indeed not driven by ‘hard scientific data’, but by the complete dearth of it. There is no data for intelligent design. There is only intuitive assertion.

    That principle holds for all science. Opposition to hypotheses need not be based on data, but simply on the fact that the negative is the default. A hypothesis must be advanced with evidence. There is no evidence for intelligent design. There is only intuitive assertion.

    Which means that Sarah’s statement does not apply just to “intelligent design”. To put the general case: “The opposition we encounter to entertaining evidence is not driven by hard scientific data.”

    Sarah’s opposition, for example, certainly isn’t.

  4. “Consensus sciencereligion.” That is a phrase you hear invoked a lot, as if identifying a “consensus” should be enough to settle any scientificreligious question. But sometimes [?]scientistscreationists do not, in fact, follow the evidence. The consensus, then, could be wrong.
    There, I fixed it for Savvy Sarah.

  5. Michael Fugate

    I think Sarah meant to say:
    The opposition we have to evolution is not driven by hard scientific data. Instead, it is driven by intuition and a very narrow reading of Genesis.

  6. And what is the alternative?
    There is no point to speaking of evidence. Evidence for what?
    Can they describe what Intelligent Design is?
    Don’t let them get away with that nonsense.

  7. Let’s accept Savvy Sarah’s advice:

    “Ask what that “consensus” is based on. The evidence? Or something else?”
    Evidence and something else – namely an unambiguous, coherent and consistent theory. The contrast with IDiocy is stark. TomS is totally right – IDiocy fails in every single respect, including several I can’t recall right now.

  8. Creationism isn’t dependent on any reading of Genesis. Their reading of Genesis is dependent on their revulsion of the idea of being related to the rest of the world of life. Especially, where it is most obvious: chimps and other apes.
    They are not able to come up with any
    explanation for the obvious relationships in the world of life, other than evolution. (Nobody has.) So they have been reduced to making up ineffectual attacks, including enlargements on the Bible.
    Why are we so closely related to other primates? Why does vision operate according to the laws of optics? The Bible doesn’t have any interest in such questions. Saying that there might be another answer is worthless, a waste of time.

  9. Michael Fugate:
    “If their new book is any guide, then ID is just biblical creationism with a different name. Meyer, Gauger, Wells, West, Nelson, Axe, Dembski as contributors would seem to indicate this is so.

    Dave Luckett:
    “In the case of ‘intelligent design’, rejection is indeed not driven by ‘hard scientific data’, but by the complete dearth of it. There is no data for intelligent design. There is only intuitive assertion.

    That principle holds for all science. Opposition to hypotheses need not be based on data, but simply on the fact that the negative is the default. A hypothesis must be advanced with evidence. There is no evidence for intelligent design. There is only intuitive assertion.”

    Hear, hear!

  10. TomS:
    “Their [creationists’] reading of Genesis is dependent on their revulsion of the idea of being related to the rest of the world of life. Especially, where it is most obvious: chimps and other apes.”

    One might wonder if creationists would feel the same way if chimps and gorillas were light-skinned?

    Creationism is strongest in the rural South of the US — the same areas where segregationist feelings are still strong today, the same areas where slavery was allowed before the US Civil War.

    (I believe SC brought up this point in a post years ago, but it bears repeating.)

  11. Michael Fugate

    Creationism is in a sense. There are gods and these gods do things. Genesis claims that a male was formed from dirt by one of these gods and a female from his rib. The other animals were formed by this god too.

    Anything else is extra-textual. There is nothing about why gods would do any of these things or how they did it.

    The idea of animation of effigies is an age-old narrative (more recent stories like Pinocchio and Frankenstein) – 19th century discoveries changed that narrative – e.g. cell theory and evolution. If one reads these old stories, the reasons why someone would attempt animation are varied. To infer what the gods were supposed to be up to and why is simply wishful thinking.

    Also the theologians in the book believe that Christianity and especially their continued life after death is contingent on Genesis being true.

  12. Creationist thinking is that Genesis must be true, otherwise there was no original sin and Jesus would not have needed to die (or even be sent). So by being born, everyone inherits the sin, and only by admitting to being a sinner/accepting Jesus can anyone go to heaven.

    Doesn’t that line of thinking make christianity the biggest Kafkatrap in history?

  13. Creationists always argue that scientists have it wrong when it comes to origin and diversity of living things. Failing (willfully) to understand scientific methodology, they consistently portray scientific debate as weakness and scientific consensus as conspiracy. Fun to see their creative distortions, it’s also exasperating when they contribute to public distrust and denial of science.

  14. Michael Fugate

    Considering again animation of nonliving forms. Here is Meyer’s summary of James Tour’s chapter in their book:
    In chapter 4, we briefly shift our focus from biological evolution to chemical evolution, the branch of evolutionary theory that attempts to explain the origin of the first life from simpler nonliving chemicals. In this chapter, organic chemist James Tour shows that undirected chemical evolutionary processes and mechanisms have not demonstrated the creative power to generate the first living cell from simpler molecules. Basing his argument on his extensive knowledge of what it takes to synthesize organic compounds, Tour shows why known chemical processes do not provide plausible mechanisms for the synthesis of the complex bio-macromolecules and molecule machines necessary for life.

    What Tour has also shown is that intelligently directed chemical processes have not demonstrated the creative power to generate a living cell form simpler molecules. It appears to be a standstill.

    We have a Bible story about gods animating dirt forms and Meyer believes it to be true. We also have countless other stories of animation – most often implicating magic – does Meyer believe magicians including Aaron turned rods into real live snakes? Does he believe Jesus reanimated corpses? What about all the other countless story of magic? If Meyer believes the Bible, then this seems to be research right up the Biologic Institute’s alley. Why is Axe fumbling with Chinese characters when he could be creating golems and raising people from the dead? Oh ye of little faith!

  15. Michael Fugate

    An example of supposed “consensus religion” with consequences ill-considered by the author. In the book above theologian Wayne Grudem summarizes a chapter thusly:
    In chapter 30, Gregg Allison argues that, through the history of the church, those who were recognized as leaders and teachers in the church were required to affirm that God is the “Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible” (Nicene Creed), an affirmation incompatible with theistic evolution.

    Doe he really want to go there? It is then not only incompatible with evolution theistic or otherwise, but also chemistry and physics. Science is wrong – all the way down – everything is “intelligently” directed radioactive decay to solar system formation. We would have more freedom in a simulation.

  16. @Michael Fugate
    Is the belief in God as the maker of all things compatible with the scientific studies of reproduction? (Genetics, embryology, growth?)
    One could argue that species are not real things, but merely human conceptions. More so someting as abstract as a genus, family, etc. Especially such a vague concept as “kind”.

  17. Michael Fugate

    Good question. The problem I see is that Grudem’s interpretation of the Nicene Creed is silly. If random mutation and natural selection can’t lead to adaptation, then random assortment of chromosomes and random events in fertilization can’t lead to an zygote, and random events in development can’t lead to an adult. Hell, random molecular motion shouldn’t lead to chemical reactions either. This kind of nonsense happens when you don’t know enough to think things through. If ID weren’t so insular and afraid of criticism, then they wouldn’t make such idiotic proclamations. But there you are.

  18. The logic of collective action is that when the costs of expressing a belief are borne by the individual, but the benefits are shared among all members of an epistemic community, it is perfectly rational to fail to reveal our beliefs about that topic, no matter how justified they might be.

    In other words, lots of scientists really support “intelligent design” but are afraid to say so.

    Evidence? None, but then, creationists like Ms. Chaffee don’t really need any. They just know.

  19. TomB proclaims: “Creationist thinking is that Genesis must be true”
    Muslim and hindu creationists will disagree. Creationist thinking consists of three elements.

    1. Evolution Theory is false.
    2. Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy.
    3. God of the Gaps.

    For none any view on Genesis is required.